Early Pregnancy Ultrasound Scans: A Complete Guide

Having ultrasound scans in the first few weeks of pregnancy can be quite eventful. Because you can see the little blob with a heartbeat that will soon grow as your baby.

Early Pregnancy Scans:

Ultrasound scans make use of sound waves to create a picture of the baby in the womb. These pregnancy scans are completely safe and painless. They have no side effects on mothers and babies.

Usually, two scans are carried out during the first trimester of pregnancy. A dating and viability scan between weeks 6-9 and an early morphology scan or NT scan between weeks 11-13.

Although pregnancy ultrasound scans are eventful, be aware of the fact that they can also detect some severe abnormalities in you, so you need to be prepared for that information.

What does happen in the Ultrasound Scanning Room?

The scans are carried out by specially trained staff called sonographers. The sonographer puts gel on your stomach and tucks tissue papers around your clothes to protect them from the gel. The gel ensures that there is a proper contact between your skin and the machine.

The sonographer places a probe, a handheld device, over your skin. Then, the probe transmits ultrasounds waves and picks them up when they bounce back.

A black and white imagery of the baby appears on the ultrasound scan. However, there are now more options available to you. You can instead choose a 3D, 4D or HD live ultrasound scan as well. Not only that, with BabyFlix, your pregnancy ultrasound imagery can be turned into a short Hollywood movie.

How long does a scan take?

An ultrasound scan takes around 20 minutes. However, the sonographer won't be able to get a good view of the baby if he/she is lying in an awkward position or moving around.   

If you're an overweight woman or your body tissues are dense, it can reduce the quality of the picture as there are more tissues for the ultrasound waves to pass through before they reach the baby. If it gets difficult to get a good picture of the baby, the sonographer might repeat the process.

When are the scans offered?

Hospitals usually prefer all pregnant women to have at least two pregnancy ultrasound scans during pregnancy. The first scan, performed between weeks 6-13, is sometimes called the 'Dating Scan.' In this type of scan, the sonographer estimates your due date based on the measurements of your baby. The dating scan can also include an NT (Nuchal translucency) scan, a combined part of the screening test for Down's syndrome.

The second scan is called the 'Anomaly scan' or mid-pregnancy scan. It usually takes place between weeks 18-21 of pregnancy and is performed to detect structural abnormalities (anomalies) in the baby.

It is also possible that some women may be offered more than two scans, depending on their pregnancy and their health.

What information does an ultrasound scan give?

An ultrasound can be used to check your baby's size - at the dating scan. It gives a better idea of how many weeks pregnant you are and what's your due date. It can tell whether you are going to give birth to more than one baby, check for abnormalities, and show the position of the placenta.

Can a scan tell if it's a girl or a boy?

Although finding the gender of a baby during an ultrasound scan is not offered as a part of the National Screening Programme, but it can be possible if the hospital's policy allows doing so. If you want to determine the gender of your baby, tell the sonographer during your mid-pregnancy scan that you would like to know the sex of your baby. But, it may not be possible for the sonographer to be 100% sure about the sex of your baby. For instance, during the scan, if your baby is lying in an awkward situation, it may get difficult or impossible to tell.

Can I have a picture of the baby?

You can get a picture of your baby if the clinic has the facility of providing ultrasound pictures.

With BabyFlix, clinicians and imaging centers can provide their patients with more than DVDs and printed thermals. BabyFlix bridges the gap between mothers-to-be and ultrasound providers by offering them the share-ability of their ultrasound scan images. It can make a movie of your pregnancy test, stream it live, and send it to your phone directly.